In a public address on Monday, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari once again took a swipe at the electoral process, questioning the legitimacy of elections supervised by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Bilawal, while addressing a party convention in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Nowshera district, expressed concerns that “pre-decided outcomes” could undermine the democratic essence of the electoral process, Express News reported.
The PPP chairman argued that “unfair elections” would not effectively address the existing problems facing the country. Without directly naming the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) but leaving little room for ambiguity, Bilawal accused a plan to make a person a four-time prime minister, seemingly targeting PML-N’s leader Nawaz Sharif.
Bilawal’s criticism of the PML-N and his skepticism about the electoral process are consistent themes in his recent addresses, particularly in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. He accused his former ally of aligning with influential forces to secure a prime ministerial position.
This public divergence of views between Bilawal and his father, former president Asif Ali Zardari, is noteworthy. Zardari, in a recent statement, dismissed speculations about the likelihood of rigged elections. He expressed confidence in the Election Commission of Pakistan, asserting that the environment in the country is conducive for transparent polls.
Read More: Zardari shuns complaints of level-playing field
While addressing concerns about a “level playing field,” Zardari expressed optimism about the ECP’s ability to conduct fair elections in February 2024. He reposed confidence in the PPP’s capacity to contest elections in various environments and confidently stated that the country is moving toward transparent elections.
Bilawal, however, in today’s address, emphasised the critical importance of a free and fair electoral process for addressing pressing issues such as the struggling economy and the surge in terrorism. He argued that lacking a people’s mandate could hinder the country’s ability to formulate clear stances and policies on the international stage, reflecting the aspirations of the public.
In an intriguing turn, Bilawal hinted at the possibility of protest politics in the event of alleged election rigging. He suggested a scenario where “one would assume the role of prime minister while the other would engage in the politics of protest,” hinting at potential post-election dynamics.
Bilawal also criticised the “ask-no-question” policy suggested by Nawaz Sharif to investors, cautioning against decisions that could violate people’s rights. Drawing attention to the November 16 meeting between Nawaz Sharif and key businessmen in Lahore, Bilawal urged businessmen to share their profits with the broader populace.
Read More: Nawaz proposes ‘ask-no-question’ policy for investment
Lastly, Bilawal called upon seasoned political figures with a 70-year legacy to contest elections based on their manifestos. He encouraged established leaders to present their plans through the democratic process, asserting that the electorate is well aware of the PPP’s proposed solutions to the nation’s challenges.